14/05/2006

An Accidental Life

Unfortunately, most of Titia Sutherland's books are out of print, but I finally managed to get hold of the ones I didn't have from Abebooks UK.

This is the story of Ellie, who wants to find out what went wrong in her marriage. Basically that's the plot - with the slight twist that we, the readers, find something significant out in the first chapter which Ellie is not aware of. That makes for a very moving book, as we see her discovering clues, and growing more stressed and confused until she finally manages to make sense of it - uncovering a great deal more than was hinted at in the first chapter, of course.

It's really a character-driven book, and very sympathetically done. Ellie's husband Philip was a well-known actor who suffered depression, then became a writer. As the book opens, they have a daughter at college, a son just finishing school, and a nine-year-old daughter. Each of them is affected by the dramatic start to the book in different ways, and we see events through each of them, although Ellie is the primary character.

There's a fair amount of delving into the past, as Ellie remembers significant events from her marriage, but it all works well, blending smoothly with the main part of the story without seeming intrusive. The past complements the present, and a good picture is built up of each member of the family as we gradually understand why that crisis in the first chapter happened.

It's not a long book (just under 240 pages) and I had a hard time putting it down once I had read about fifty pages. Definitely recommended.

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